Fink's CV makes for impressive reading. He worked on 1982's
Blade Runner as action property supervisor. He then
progressed to the role of visual
effects supervisor on 1983's WarGames
- a role he has held on a number of critically acclaimed movies
since. These include Braveheart
(1996) and X-Men
(2000). He is currently involved with filming Constantine
(due for release in 2004) and pre-production on Superman
(due for release in 2005). Darren Rea caught up with him as
due for release on DVD and video...
Rea: How did you originally get started in this industry?
Was it by a happy accident or was it something that you'd
always had your eye on?
Fink: I started in the film business to make some money on
the side to support my art career. I loved what I was doing,
and one thing led to another until I was fully enmeshed and
having a great time.
Looking back at all the projects you've been involved with,
which would you say you're the most proud of and why? And
which, if any, do you look back on and wish you had had more
time/money/better brief to get the job perfect?
This is a short question with a long answer that I'm afraid
I don't have time for. I'm most proud of WarGames, Batman
Returns, Braveheart, Mars Attacks!, and X-Men 2.
is not a show I've done that I didn't wish I had more money
or time. The better brief issue is different, and is a discussion
I don't think I can do without citing examples, which I'd
rather not do with my limited time.
suffice it to say that the clearer the intended goal of an
effect, the better the effect will be.
What are the worst and best things about the industry that
you work in?
Besides the people I work with, the best is the implementation
of new software and hardware to create effects each year that
I could not have done the year before. The worst is the level
of politics that has been brought to what I do. Since visual
effects budgets are often 20% or more of the budget of the
type of films I work on, there is a great deal of scrutiny
and questioning, and a bit of second guessing, that is difficult
for me to deal with.
You've been in the industry for a number of years now and
have witnessed the move over to CGI effects. Do you think
that CGI has improved the quality of movies produced or that
other areas of the production can take a back seat because
so much focus is on the visual effects?
I don't think that CGI has improved the quality of movies
produced one bit. It has changed the scale and the complexity.
No other areas of a production can take a back seat to visual
effects. Visual effects only work when they augment the story
being told, and that means that all aspects of the production
contribute what is needed. Visual effects can be just like
a badly staged fight scene. A lot of action and no story.
I always work to avoid that situation.
How has CGI affected your role in the industry? Is it something
that you embrace, or does it make your job harder?
It has made my role harder, and it is something I embrace.
There is increased complexity in every shot, and there are
some real brain twisters in what we do. The challenge is constant
and great fun. CGI has opened up a world in which there are
few restrictions. Creativity in that environment can run crazy
and be counterproductive. It's always great fun when you use
the power we have to help create good stories.
How do you find working on sequels? Was there an element of
pressure that working on X-Men 2 you had to top what
you had already achieved in the first movie?
I was disappointed with much of my work on the first X-Men,
so it was just a short hop to wanting to top what we had done
there was some pressure from outside to do better, my own
self generated pressure was quite sufficient.
How do you constantly come up with new ideas to keep movie
audiences in awe of what is on screen? Is there much left
that hasn't been done? Or is it just variations on a theme
I hate to sound like a broken record, but it all depends on
the script. I have been lucky on the X-Men pictures
because Bryan Singer crafted films with good characters and
story. This makes my job easier and keeps the effects fresher.
The only reason the audience gets the feeling that they are
looking at something they've seen before is because that particular
film has not delivered a strong enough story. I take my cues
from the characters and their situations to come up with the
effects we create.
You've been involved with some classic films (like Blade
Runner and Braveheart) but are there any movies
that you wished you'd been a part of and if so why?
There are directors that really seem to understand the power
of visual effects to help tell a story. Tim Burton is one,
and I always lament when I can't be involved in one of Tim's
films. Bob Zemeckis is another, and except for a brief stint
on Back to the Future, I've never worked with him.
So it's not so much which movies, as which director.
If you weren't employed in your current role, what would your
ideal job be?
I would still be in the film business, and would most likely
be a DP or a Production Designer. Although there are days
when I just daydream about being a compositor on one of these
films. Sitting quietly and doing my work.
Can you tell us something about your current work on Constantine
(which comic book fans will know as Hellblazer) and
what are your plans after that?
I can't really discuss Constantine other to say that
it has some cool characters and sequences. Like X-Men,
we are trying hard to stay faithful to the comic book so that
the fans will not be disappointed. I have no plans after Constantine
yet. I hope to keep working, though. It's what I like best.
Thank you for your time.
thanks to Liz Silverstone at DSA
Century Fox's X-Men 2 is released on DVD and Video from
the 10 November 2003
your copy of X-Men 2 on DVD for £9.99
(RRP: £15.99) by clicking here
your copy of X-Men 2 on video for £11.99
(RRP: £14.99) by clicking here
Order your copy of the 2-disc DVD collection of X-Men 2
for £14.99 (RRP: £22.99) by clicking